An Open Letter To J.J. Abrams: Four Ways To Make Star Wars Great Again

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Since 1999, fans have been terribly disappointed with the Star Wars franchise. The prequel trilogy didn’t quite capture the public’s imagination like the original films 22 years earlier. So when Disney acquired Lucasfilm in October 2012, the announcement of a new trio of films excited fans because George Lucas wouldn’t have anything to do with them. The addition of director J.J. Abrams to the franchise pleased some, and disappointed others. But still, many are approaching Star Wars: Episode VII with caution so we don’t get burned again like we did with The Phantom Menace. The above video is an open letter to J.J. Abrams about the new Star Wars film from Prescott Harvey, of the creative agency Sincerely, Truman.

The open letter beautifully illustrates what Abrams should do – in ismple four rules – to make Episode VII a successful entry into the Star Wars Saga. The video debuted on io9.com and an online petition can be signed for fans who want to this video delivered to Disney and Lucasfilm. The plea makes some great points about why the original trilogy connects so well with audiences around the world.

Rule 1: The Setting Is A Frontier. The original trilogy is basically a Western in space. It borrows elements from the genre, while combining them with tropes from science fiction and fantasy. Lucas’ films were a hodge-podge of familiar archetypes placed in a harsh and new environment. Conversely, the prequels removed the Western themes, while at the same time, trying to re-capture the success of the originals. Something went wrong along the way and the end result looked like Star Wars, but didn’t feel like Star Wars.

Rule 2: The Future Is Old. The technology in the earlier films is broken down and lived in, while the technology in the prequels is new and shiny. It makes sense that the prequels would be pristine in comparison, as the films take place in the “Golden Age” of the Galactic Republic. Once the originals kick in, the world is on a decline and in decay. With that in mind, since Episode VII takes place 30 years after the decay, should civilization return to the Golden Age, or a Renaissance as it were, will impact the look and feel of the film.

Rule 3: The Force Is Mysterious. Perhaps the biggest sin George Lucas committed while making the prequels was giving the Force a scientific explanation, a microscopic life-form that lives within all living beings called Midichlorians. This enraged so many fans that felt the Force should be a spiritual tool rather than an actual one, which is why Midichlorians were never brought up again in Attack of the Clones or Revenge of the Sith. Lucas realized his mistake after the release of The Phantom Menace, but by then, it was too late.

Rule 4: Star Wars Isn’t Cute. Arguably, Star Wars started the cute trend with Return of the Jedi and not The Phantom Menace. Aside from the Ewoks, Return of the Jedi had a lot of silly moments to cater to the kid-friendly crowd, especially after the darkness of The Empire Strikes Back. Star Wars has always been for kids, so I doubt the new films will only cater to older teenagers and adults. The next trilogy should be for all audiences, not just the mature ones. That said, children’s movies can be dark as well, they don’t have to be bright and goofy and wacky. Lucas lost sight of that fact.

Will Abrams mess up Star Wars? We can certainly hope not, but it all depends on if he’ll approach it like the first Star Trek reboot or the sequel Star Trek Into Darkness. If Episode VII is content to deliver cheap thrills and pander to fan nostalgia, then there’s a good chance that he might screw it up. If Abrams makes the new film in the spirit of the originals, then maybe there’s a chance to return the franchise to its true form.


  • cousincheeto

    I don’t know why Episodes I, II & III get such hate. Yes Jar Jar was annoying, Yes Episode II had its really stupid points but all in all I enjoyed them and the original trilogy. Everyone needs to chill the f*ck out.

    • Glen

      People hate them because they have bad stories, bad pacing, and terrible acting from good actors. They only exist so that Lucas could experiment with new CGI, which often didn’t look very good.

      • Dominic Draper

        On the CGI point – the worst part of the prequel trilogy is the slew of wannabes it spawned that all overuse bad CGI and let it ruin what started out as a good idea… Puppetry, camera trickery and models will win me over much more than CGI

    • StGermain1977

      Here’s a great review that goes into the details, from a filmmaking perspective (not a raging fanboy), why the sequels were actually a rushed project.


  • Joseph Paul Strom

    Yes, because Star Wars VI, didn’t have Ewoks, there was no such thing as the Star Wars Christmas Special, and we didn’t have two Star War spinoff movies that involved Ewoks… oh, wait all of those things happened. Yeah, sorry, but I don’t agree with your last point, but Star Wars has always had a cute element in it, whether it be a beeping R2-D2, Princess Leia, or an Ewok, cute was always there.

  • Andrew Bermudez

    And what is with him saying the future is old? Did he miss the first line to every movie? A long, long time ago in a galaxy far far away…. There is no indication that this ever took place in the future and he kept using star trek terminology by saying frontier!!!! Who ever made this video clearly is not a very good star wars fan

    • Daniel Rogers

      he meant frontier as in western frontier (outback etc) i think not the final frontier (unexplored space) but i agree its not got a specific time frame

      • TeriT

        He means old as in there’s a long history. The original trilogy was during a period of decline for this grand civilization. The Prequil was during their golden age. In star wars, the civilization is an entire galaxy, but on earth you could compare it to the rise and fall of the roman empire.
        Think of boba fett…in the prequils his dad has a nice shiny new outfit…in the original series it’s a bit tattered since boba’s had it for a long time…it would be silly if he all of a sudden had a nice shiny new outfit again..,..especially after escaping from that pit…

        • Daniel Rogers

          also bobas armor was his fathers

  • Glen

    I disagree with basically everything this guy says. Only thing he has right is the Force is mysterious.

  • Jarjar

    If these pricks that hates everything want something that is just like ep. 4,5 & 6, they can watch the originals and they’ll be just fine!
    Damn! New episodes are, err, NEW! Expect a bit of novelty here!
    Besides, JJ will probably do just as he wants because he’s that good!

  • Troy Carrington

    and characters don’t go…”weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!’

  • Markus87

    I thought the frontier idea made sense, but the ‘future is old’ rule only works for frontier worlds… remember the ship that Hope started out on? It was white and shiny, not old and broken. I think the key for the original trilogy’s success was that it was an underdog story… a David and Goliath story. It was all about not needing the biggest army or the latest technology to win the day… this was the essential appeal for kids and pretty much everyone else. It was the idea that individuals can make a difference. Just my .02 I guess.

    • SubSumeYou

      Well said.

  • rosie1843

    STAR WARS has always been great . . . from 1977 to 2005. Who do you think you are, believing you’re capable of speaking for all STAR WARS fans?

  • Tim Cunard

    I think this is the wrongest review/bitch session I have ever watched!
    Getting more and more annoyed about sports writers writing reviews on sci-fi!

    • SubSumeYou

      I agree with you, too.

  • The Guy

    That midichlorians comment was really dumb. That’s like the first thing Obi-wan mentions in A New Hope.

    • MisterApplesauce

      They aren’t mentioned until Phantom Menace. At least, in the movies…. and they are stupid.

  • Phill A. Sheeo

    Three is the only valid point up there. This is what killed it off. I.. I.. cant even…

  • Garth Hader

    Don’t use so much fuckin CGI

    • JabbaduHutt

      Agreed. More practical fx. Fewer CGI creatures and ships.